Here’s How to Make Them Work for You

iOS 15 introduced lots of new iPhone features. One of the best additions was time-sensitive notifications. Time-sensitive notifications ensure you don’t miss out on any critical updates, even if you’ve got most notifications disabled through a Focus mode.

This article breaks down what time-sensitive notifications are and how you can use them on an iPhone or iPad.


What Are Time-Sensitive Notifications in iOS?

Apple introduced Focus with the reveal of iOS 15 in June 2021. Apple’s Focus feature allows you to decide who can contact you and which apps can send notifications during a specific time. It’s a handy way to help you tune out the noise to focus on the task at hand, such as working, sleeping, reading, or driving.

Focus Mode is one of a few new productivity features introduced in iOS 15.

But while blocking out the noise is good, not all notifications need to be silenced. Some notifications, like a transaction alert from your bank, impact you directly and should be acted on without delay. That is where time-sensitive notifications come in, allowing you to block notifications without missing out on essential alerts.

Time-sensitive notifications break through your different Focus modes and remain on your Lock Screen for an hour so you can act on them with the urgency they require. Apple categorizes notification interruptions into four levels: passive, active, time-sensitive, and critical. Let’s break down each to help you understand them better.

iOS delivers passive notifications, which don’t need immediate attention, silently without triggering sounds and vibrations and lighting up the screen. Active notifications, the default interruption level, are regular alerts that will produce sounds and vibrations and light up the screen.

Time-sensitive notifications are a special kind that will alert you like active ones, but will also break through Focus mode and Notification Summary settings so you always see them. If you’re interested in the latter, check out our guide on setting up Notification Summary on your iPhone or iPad.

Critical notifications, first introduced in iOS 14, have an even higher priority than time-sensitive as they can bypass the silent switch. Critical notifications only apply to certain events like severe weather alerts and local safety warnings. And due to their nature, Apple has to grant an app developer permission to deliver critical notifications.

What’s the Best Way to Use Time-Sensitive Notifications?

Apple has given developers a way to categorize their notifications to fit the different interruption levels. But due to the way time-sensitive notifications work, you should be cautious about which apps you grant this kind of privilege to.

If misused, time-sensitive notifications will invade your peace of mind. However, you can get the most out of the feature by only using time-sensitive notifications on apps whose alerts require immediate attention or action.

How Do I Enable and Disable Time-Sensitive Notifications?

Enabling and disabling time-sensitive notifications in iOS is a cinch. Besides, iOS allows you to enable and disable time-sensitive notifications for individual apps. However, due to the nature of the feature, not all apps have it.

How to Enable Time-Sensitive Notifications for Individual Apps

We’ll start by showing you how to enable these notifications per app, which gives you more control and sets the foundation for the next step. Follow these steps to enable time-sensitive notifications for your critical apps:

  1. Launch the Settings app.
  2. Tap Notifications.
  3. Scroll down and select an app that you wish to receive time-sensitive notifications from.
  4. Enable Allow Notifications if disabled.
  5. Finally, toggle on Time-Sensitive Notifications.

How to Enable Time-Sensitive Notifications in Focus Modes

Once you’ve enabled time-sensitive notifications in your app(s) of choice, there’s one extra task you have to do. And that is allowing apps with time-sensitive notifications enabled to bypass different Focus modes.

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Launch the Settings app.
  2. Tap Focus and select a Focus mode of your choice.
  3. Tap Apps under Allowed Notifications.
  4. Enable Time Sensitive.

Since some apps don’t have access to time-sensitive notifications, Apple provides a way to allow notifications from them with Focus mode enabled. To do this, tap the Add button under Allowed Apps. Next, select the app(s) from which you wish to start receiving notifications while the current Focus mode is enabled. Finally, tap Done to finish.

How to Disable Time-Sensitive Notifications

You can disable time-sensitive notifications by app or by Focus modes. If you want to disable an individual app from sending time-sensitive notifications, follow these steps:

  1. Go to the Settings app.
  2. Select Notifications.
  3. Tap on the app you wish to stop receiving time-sensitive notifications from.
  4. Toggle off Time-Sensitive Notifications under the Always Deliver Immediately section.

To disable time-sensitive notifications while in a certain Focus mode, follow these steps:

  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. Tap Focus and select a Focus mode of your choice.
  3. Tap Apps under Allowed Notifications.
  4. Toggle off Time-Sensitive.

Stay on Top of Important Updates With Time-Sensitive Notifications

Time-sensitive notifications allow you to focus on whatever you do without missing out on important alerts at the same time. And with the average person receiving over a dozen daily notifications, time-sensitive notifications give you more control, allowing only the key ones to get through and blocking out the noise.

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